NEW YORK—Today, the New York State Senate voted to pass S.8182-A (Hoylman)/A.10508-A (Paulin), legislation that would make a COVID-19 vaccine widely available after it receives FDA approval. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the Assembly as well.
Senator Hoylman said: “A whole generation of New Yorkers now knows what it’s like to live through a pandemic without a vaccine for protection: more than 23,000 of our neighbors have lost their lives, and millions are facing economic devastation. We need to do everything possible to end the carnage and find a cure. That’s why it’s crucial we make a COVID-19 vaccine widely available at pharmacies, where many low-income New Yorkers get their health care. Standing up for public health and science isn’t easy—but it’s always the right thing to do. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, my Senate colleagues and Assembly Member Amy Paulin for standing strong in support of this crucial public health legislation.”
Senator Hoylman and Assembly Member Paulin’s legislation authorizes licensed pharmacists to administer an FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19 and would take effect no sooner than 90 days after the FDA approves the vaccine. It also requires the Commissioners of Health and Education to jointly certify that allowing pharmacists to administer the vaccine would be in the best interest of public health.
Pharmacists serve as the primary point of contact for many New Yorkers, especially those in low-income rural and urban communities; more than 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy. Already, pharmacists in New York are authorized to administer immunizations for illnesses including influenza, shingles, tetanus, and pertussis. Studies show immunization rates rise by as much as 8 percent when pharmacists are authorized to administer vaccines.
Research universities and pharmaceutical companies are developing more than 90 potential vaccines, and some have already begun safety trials with human volunteers. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told a U.S. Senate committee this month that an effective vaccine could be identified by late fall or early winter. A new Associated Press poll found only half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Although a safe, effective vaccine would end the pandemic, anti-vaccine extremists are attempting to spread fear and misinformation about public health. They are also using the COVID-19 crisis to spread the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory. Many have targeted Senator Hoylman online and in person, attempting to retaliate for his efforts to pass legislation that expanded vaccination rates in the middle of 2019’s measles outbreak.